Skip to main content

Maintaining Your Health and Wellbeing This Academic Year

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
 
With the fall term in full swing, I would like to welcome all new and returning students, faculty, staff, and researchers to campus. At Harvard University Health Services (HUHS), we look forward to partnering with each of you to promote and maintain your wellbeing throughout the academic year. Following are some important health and wellness updates.

COVID-19 Is Still Circulating, Socialize Safely

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently designates COVID-19 community risk levels in Middlesex and Suffolk counties as medium, showing substantial local exposure to the virus. To keep our community safe, it is important to remain prudent and follow best practices.

If you have symptoms, take an at-home antigen test and mask if you must be around others. If you test positive for COVID, please report your result to HUHS via Crimson Clear and follow isolation guidance. As a reminder, Color PCR testing ends on September 16th.

We encourage everyone to use the eight free COVID tests per month available through private health insurance. Students and dependents insured through the Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP), can obtain free rapid home tests through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts instructions are listed on the HUSHP website. For employees and dependents covered under the University’s Express Scripts program, instructions for ordering free test kits are detailed in this PDF. If you have a different health plan, check with your insurance carrier.

Masking Remains Optional

Aside from health care settings and where otherwise required for non-COVID reasons (e.g., in some laboratories), masking continues to be optional. However, we strongly encourage voluntary masking in other settings to reduce the risk of transmission. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable for their personal masking decision in a mask-optional setting. Be mindful that there are members of our community who must mask.
 
Vaccine Clinics on Campus

In order to register for spring term, students must be compliant with all vaccine requirements. This includes the annual flu shot as well as the bivalent Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster.

HUHS will offer the new COVID-19 bivalent Omicron booster starting the week of September 19. The booster now includes protection against the most prevalent, highly contagious, Omicron variant as well as the original strain. For more information about the booster, listen to (or read the transcript of) this podcast from the American Medical Association.

Also, starting the week of September 19, HUHS will offer free flu vaccines at a variety of locations across the Cambridge, Allston, and Longwood campuses. Flu shots will be available through mid-December and clinic times are listed on the HUHS calendar.

Community members with Harvard IDs are welcome at any of the scheduled clinics unless otherwise noted for a specific population. We will do our best to accommodate walk-ins, but we cannot guarantee COVID-19 booster doses without an appointment as we are dependent on a limited supply provided by the State. We highly recommend scheduling an appointment on the HUHS Patient Portal. We will do our best to respect your scheduled appointment time, however there may be a delay. We appreciate your patience.

An Update on Monkeypox

Over 300 cases have been reported in Massachusetts. Persons with suspected exposure or infection should contact HUHS at 617-495-5711. In the event of a positive case, isolation is required. With assistance from Harvard Environmental Health and Safety, we have developed guidance on how to safely leave isolation for essential needs as well as launder clothing

  • If you need a vaccine referral or an evaluation for suspected monkeypox infection or exposure, contact HUHS at 617-495-5711 for an assessment and instructions.

Maintaining Your Mental Health and Overall Wellbeing

Overall wellbeing is more than the absence of emotional distress and physical illness. We each play a vital role in not only maintaining our own wellbeing but also creating a culture that intentionally prioritizes wellbeing and values compassion and belonging. This requires attention to all aspects of wellbeing, including the need to build social connections and to create community.

The start of the academic year can be stressful, and it is important to focus on your health and wellbeing. There are many resources available to help you on your wellbeing journey.

The HUHS Center for Wellness and Health Promotion (CWHP) has a variety of resources: 

  • In-person and virtual offerings including guided meditation, Tai Chi, yoga-inspired classes, as well as massage and acupuncture appointments
  • Workshops and services to educate the community on holistic wellbeing, sleep, sexual health, as well as alcohol and substance use
  • Wellness Educators, who are undergraduate students that engage their peers around holistic wellbeing through education and skill-building

Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) also provides the following resources and services for students: 

  • CAMHS Cares, a 24/7 support line (617-495-2042) that is staffed by licensed counselors who offer direct support for Harvard students with mental health concerns—whether they are in immediate distress or not—and provides support and advice to anyone concerned about the mental health of a student
  • Workshops and groups for students on topics such as perfectionism, mental wellbeing, grieving together, and coping skills
  • Clinical consultations as well as in-person and telehealth sessions
  • Peer counseling for undergraduate students via Indigo, Room 13, and others as well as Active Minds, a mental health peer education resource
  • Referrals to clinicians in the community

I also encourage you to explore other wellbeing programs offered by your School or Unit, as well as other University departments including the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and BelongingHuman Resources (for employees), the Office for Gender Equity, and Athletics & Recreation.

HUHS will continue to monitor state and local data, and our scientific expert advisors will help guide future public health decisions. If warranted, we are prepared to pivot to more extensive protections to keep Harvard healthy.

Welcome back to campus and wishing you all the best this semester.

Giang T. Nguyen, MD, MPH
Associate Provost for Campus Health and Wellbeing
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services